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Thursday, 15 September 2011

My Crosley

By Nancy Lazinsky

I guess that I will write about my Crosley. My father saw it advertised on TV late one night by one of those loud-mouthed salesmen and decided that it was the car for me.

I worked at the Bell Telephone Company. Well, that was the only one there was in those days. Life was so simple.

I took three streetcars to work and then back again. I did not want a car. Way too much responsibility. See, that's the difference between boys and girls. All the boys in my family couldn't wait to drive and none of the girls wanted any part of it. However, my father prevailed.

The car was a station wagon, mostly green and brown, and I'm pretty sure it cost $300 secondhand. I have no idea what year the car was. Remember, I'm a girl. Why should I care what year it was?

The Crosley was a Volkswagen bug but ahead of its time. I've never found anyone else who owned one and few that ever heard of one. I understand that they were put together by a refrigerator company.

Pop gave me driving instructions and that was a true disaster. I almost hit the pumps at the corner gas station and I would cut off large trucks on the highway. Pop had a friend who had a friend and I was presented with a driver's license without any sort of test.

So there I was, stuck with a car and a driver's license and no excuse not to drive except that I was a lousy driver.

Each morning I drove to work and picked up two girls at their doorsteps along the way. They paid me ten cents a trip which was what they would have paid for the streetcar, and they got to work in style.

Those ten cents paid for all my gas. The car hardly needed gas at all, which was a good thing because the gas gauge did not function. Several things didn't work. For one thing, if you forgot and turned on the radio at night, the car lights would go out. That was one thing that I learned - to replace a fuse.

Once when I was stopped for a light, a group of boys surrounded the car, picked it up and put it and me on the sidewalk. That was annoying to say the least.

One night, the car saved my life. I'm sure it did. I had gone with a girlfriend to some stadium to see some game that she wanted to see. The stadium was in the worst part of town and my father would only let me go if I promised to park under a light and to come straight home after the game. I promised, and had every intention of keeping that promise. However, fate intervened.

There was a fire and the police were diverting traffic. Perhaps I should mention that the Crosley door locks no longer worked. I drove along looking for a street name that I recognized. When I finally did, I had passed the turn and so turned down the next street, intending to go around the block.

In the headlights, I saw what looked like the bombed-out streets of Berlin – broken-down, empty buildings and vacant lots covered with trash. Broken glass glittered in my headlights. Two cars were parked on the street.

As I passed the first one, it pulled out and blocked the street behind us. Before I got to the second car, it had pulled out and blocked the way in front of us. A neat little trap for any car coming down their street.

Young men poured out of each car. We could see that some had knives in their hands. My friend was screaming. I was on automatic pilot. I drove the car as fast as I could into the front car. When I bounced off that car, I was at an angle that allowed me to get around the side of the front car and keep on going. If I had not had such a tiny car, I wouldn't have fit.

I was cool when I needed to be but afterward, I was a nervous wreck. On the other hand, my friend was just fine when the danger was over.

That car took me on many an adventure until a drunk, just out of jail and without a driver's license, managed to hit every car on both sides of the street, including mine, and then wander away ending up passed out in the gutter. The car didn't owe me a thing.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Instructions for submitting are here.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post



You were in some pretty good company with your Crosley car.

I went to Wiki to learn more about Crosley and found these famous people who were also Crosley owners.

General Omar Bradley

Humphrey Bogart (Two-cylinder Crosley)

David Carradine (VC Super Sports)

Kenny Delmar ('Senator Claghorn' on The Fred Allen Show)

Tommy Dorsey

President Dwight D. Eisenhower (1951 CD Surrey)

Geraldine Ferraro (Two-cylinder Crosley)

Paulette Goddard (Two-cylinder Crosley)

Pamela Harriman (purchased the first 1939 Crosley)

George M. Humphrey, Secretary of the Treasury

Art Linkletter (1952 CD Sport Convertible)

Alex Raymond, Flash Gordon cartoonist (Crosley-Bandini)

Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York (1950 HotShot)

Gloria Swanson (Two-cylinder Crosley)

Fred Waring (Two-cylinder Crosley)

Frank Lloyd Wright (1952 VC Super Sports)

AND, it saved your life! What more could you ask?

We bought my oldest son a Crosley when he wanted to leave home and high school. We thought it might keep him home. You see it was not running and his job was to get it up and going. He took on the job, daily after school, taking it all apart piece by piece and naming each piece so he knew where to put it back. But along the way he lost interest and there sat a Crosley in the garage in pieces. Oh what to do? Finally an ad brought a man who wanted one and he bought it, even for more than we paid for it in '69. The son did quit high school and ran away to find "a better life". Thankfully now, years later he's gainfully employed.

Love the story and the comments..I think I heard of Crosleys in old time detective stories..but looks like they did have a following from one of the commenters..You sure were a tough little cookie to ram another car and make a getaway...what a great scene that would be even now...thanks for sharing it...

Loved your story Nancy. It reminded me of my early car stories. But,I really didn't pay much attention to the kind of car or year. I just wanted to put gas in it and turn the key and go. I was not interested in anything else.

Thanks for your comments and especially for the list of famous owners. I had no idea I was in such good company.

Johna...I'm glad that your story has a happy ending. Last Winter we loaned our great-grandson our garage for "a week" so that he could put together an old car that his father had given him. The week turned into the whole winter resulting in my car sitting out in the snow. Finally got him to tow it out and learned a lesson besides. Still love him though.

I love to learn something new everyday. Don't think I had ever heard of a Crosley till now. I'm kinda like Mary--a car is just a way to get me somewhere. In fact, I have had a new leased car since December (I call her "my leased Dutchess)and I still don't recognize it in parking lots. Good story, Nan. Yes, you've always been a survivor!

Loved your story. It was a mini adventure.

Washed my wife's VW Bug yesterday and remembered some of the buggin around my buddy and I did in the 60's--even up on the sidewalk.

Nancy - Loved your story. What a great little car that was. I did an image search using Yahoo and it was fun to see what those cars looked like. I'd never heard of them.

My goodness, your quick thinking and tough little car got you out of what sounded like a very perilous situation. Thank God for that! Brilliant!

I think that story will be stuck in my mind for a while now..... thanks for sharing!

My dad had a Crosley after WWII. He had it professionally painted yellow, green and red with the name of his Shriners' temple emblazoned on the hood. An oversized Shriner's fez was displayed on the roof. In Atlantic City at a Shriners' convention he got special permission to drive it on the boardwalk. It was the sensation of the parade. Afterwards he brought it home and gave it to my mom who courageously drove it around town.

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